The DROID system of modules and expanders from Mathias Kettner is now available and could replace half your Eurorack.
I reported on the prototype DROID system from Mathia Kettner of Der Mann mit der Maschine last summer. I was very impressed by this visually stunning and functionally elegant module while also keeping in mind the pros and cons of multi-function modules in an environment that runs on predominantly analogue interaction. The whole range has recently become available for sale so it’s a good time to revisit it.
The system starts with the DROID Master module. It consists of 8 CV inputs and 8 CV outputs and 16 corresponding full-colour LEDs behind a rather lovely front panel. The internal system can be programmed with a simple text file to perform almost any CV task imaginable. You could turn it into a Turning machine, a sequencer, an envelope, LFO, Euclidean source, pattern generator, burst generator, clock manipulator, crossfader, looper, logic gates, maths utility and on and on, more and more possibilities.
You can use a single output for a single task and many different tasks or tie up everything in a huge patch. It’s entirely up to you and the manual contains dozens of examples. You do have to write them in so it takes a little bit of thought and preparation to make the best use out of the system. You decide what you want it to be and then make use of it.
The DROID Master doesn’t have any knobs but you can of course feed CV into it from other sources to control parameters. However, DROID has an expansion system that gives you that badly needed hands-on interaction. The P2B8 expanded has 8 buttons and 2 knobs and you can add a chain of up 16 of these to control every possible parameter for every input and output. You allocate the controls to tasks within the text file so you could use a single knob to control many things.
The other expander is the G8 which attaches separately to the DROID and offers a bank of 8 dedicated trigger outputs or inputs with their own LED display.
What DROID does brilliantly is provide a visually illuminating display and an extremely flexible and versatile CV engine within a small space. You can have lots of different things all going on at once which can be left to run or controlled via the P2B8 expanders. The controlling text file is held on an SD card and you can hot-swap these in order to change the functionality of the entire module. So you could have it set up as a modulator during one piece of music and transform it into a beat generator for your next track just by swapping out the card and hitting the white button.
The coding is really simple and the manual gives you a huge range of things to try. For instance, here’s the coding for a musical quantizer based on Mathias’ design for the Sinfonion module made by Audiophile Circuits League.
input = I1
output = O2
root = 2
degree = 7
The “degree” selects one of 12 predefined scales. Or how about an LFO:
hz = 4
triangle = O1
It’s really easy.
The DROID system is available now and the DROID Master will cost you €388. The G8 is €148 and the P2B8 is €118. Bundles are available so a DROID including a G8 and two P2B8 modules would be €756. It may seem a bit expensive but once you get into the functionality then it will really demonstrate its value.
I think it’s a very interesting system especially when you get to the stage with Eurorack where you’re mentally planning out a patch rather than simply stumbling through one. You could suck a lot of tasks into the one module to reduce the modules you need and let you focus on the ones you want to control.
A useful review of the DROID system.
- DROID Expanders: Der Mann mit der Maschine